[The ketogenic diet: an underappreciated therapeutic option?]

Clin Ter. 2011;162(5):e145-53.
[Article in Italian]


Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in Western countries and is a strong risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Despite the constant recommendations of health care organizations regarding the importance of weight control, this goal often fails. Although there is a common agreement about the concept that exercise and diet are two key factors for the control of body weight, the ideal amount and type of exercise and also the ideal diet for weight control are still under debate. A widely accepted nutritional regime is the Mediterranean diet that has evident health benefits although less attention has been paid to see if the effects are due to other lifestyle factors which may contribute to the health benefits perhaps as much as specific food choices. There are several other options available to the physician that may produce good weight loss results in the short/medium term and also for maintenance of the goal achieved. One of these strategies is the ketogenic diet or VLCKD (very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet) that has been widely studied in recent years. Most studies show that this diet has a solid physiological and biochemical basis which is able to induce effective weight loss and improvement of several parameters of cardiovascular risk. This review discusses the physiological basis of VLCKD and the main applications together with its strengths and weaknesses compared to common dietary recommendations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted* / adverse effects
  • Diet, Ketogenic* / adverse effects
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Diet, Reducing* / adverse effects
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases / metabolism
  • Ketone Bodies / metabolism
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Loss


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Ketone Bodies
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA Reductases